sing sign: a close duet

(2015) Composition, visual score, two-screen film installation and live performance

Commissioned by Edinburgh Art Festival for ‘The Improbable City’, SING SIGN: a close duet is a vocal and gestural suite presented as a two-screen film installation and a series of live performances, in response to the intimate world of Edinburgh’s historic ‘closes’ – the small alleyways that lead off either side of the Royal Mile. Sheltered in the confined space of a ‘close’, facing one another, a male and female performer enact an enigmatic encounter: a wordless dialogue conducted entirely through gesture and song.

Tuulikki’s composition is divided into four movements – Allemande, Courante, Sarabande and Gigue – named after the traditional Baroque dance suite, appropriate to a work rooted in gesture and movement. The architectural rubric of the city delineates its own visual-score: the composition and choreography is derived from a street-map dating from 1765. The choreography, derived from British Sign Language, weaves together street-names and mimetic gestures. The melody is split between two voices, in accordance with the closes which branch-off from the arterial high street.

Despite the complete absence of words, at the heart of SING SIGN is an embodied reflection on language, and how the languages we have access to shape our experience of the world around us.

Image credits: (1) Robin Gillanders, (2) Daniel Warren (3) Hanna Tuulikki

Shortlisted for British Composer Award 2016 (Sonic Arts Category)

+read essay on SING SIGN by Ruth Barker, from ‘The Improbable City’ catalogue here

+watch film here

+more on process coming soon…